Saturday 29 September 2018, Marble Hill Park, Twickenham.
St Anne’s Allstars 232-6 (35 overs; Singh 53, Bowman 42) beat New Barbarian Weasels 204-7 (35 overs; Iyas 80) by 28 runs.
Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell
The end of September in England marks the change of the sporting guard. The football season is now fully underway and the Premier League takes centre stage once again. Across the Channel, the Italian Francesco Molinari and the Lancastrian Tommy Fleetwood became a match made in heaven as Europe regained the Ryder Cup before a raucous Paris crowd. But cricket still has the chance for one last hurrah, and on a glorious, sun-kissed afternoon, we took it with victory over our old friends the New Barbarian Weasels to end the season in fine style.
Despite only playing one other game this season, Weasels were determined to fulfill the fixture, and they arrived in Twickenham with some timely reinforcements from skipper Asif’s friends and family in Birmingham. We batted first by arrangement, on an artificial surface which offered true, if slightly tennis ball bounce. Nipak Das, opening the batting on his Allstars debut, was quickly into the action. Having seen off a testing opening spell from Asif and Rash, he soon began to find the boundary. With club skipper Pete Cresswell providing solid support, the openers had put on 36 before Nipak was adjudged LBW to spinner Gul as he missed an attempted sweep.
Pete followed soon after, unable to repeat his mighty feats against Mighty Wanderers as he drove Omar to mid-on – but this was to bring together the key partnership of the day. Sachin Singh looked set as soon as he walked to the crease, and Paul “KP” Bowman carefully played himself in before he too went for his shots. Sachin reached his fifty in just 32 balls as the pair added 82 in 10 overs. They looked in such total control that it was a surprise when Sachin had his stumps knocked back as he went for another drive.
Sam Macdonald joined KP at the wicket and kept the momentum going, hooking the short ball well and driving powerfully as a further 52 were added in quick time. They both fell in quick succession – KP bowled by the returning Rash, and Sam brilliantly caught at long leg. Umar Asghar was soon caught at slip, and the Weasels were back in the game. But the Allstars’ batting line up was once again deep, and Ronanki Dharani and Ragavendiran Krishnamoorthy both played sparkling cameos as 36 came off the last 4 overs. Raga, making his first Allstars appearance of the season, played the shot of the day, a screaming six over cow corner in the final over. 232-6 seemed like a good score, but on a true pitch and a lightning outfield we had plenty work to do to defend it.
With a tough target to chase, Weasels had no choice but to attack from the beginning as openers Iyas and Waqas both went for it, Iyas driving hard at any over-pitched delivery and Waqas dabbing and cutting at anything short. But KP was not to be intimidated, and he struck first with a real effort ball which flew off Waqas’ glove and was well taken by keeper Dharani.
Nipak continued his excellent debut with two superb pieces of fielding at mid-off, a direct-hit run out of Gul and a well-judged catch to dismiss Amjad as Raga was rewarded for an accurate spell. Our old friend Iain Regnier-Wilson, who has done so much to keep the Weasels going over the years as well as guesting for the Allstars, came in and continued their positive approach – but Umar, in the week of his 18th birthday, kept control with the ball as well as doing some inspirational fielding on the boundary. It was a deserved present when he had Iain smartly taken by Sachin in the gully.
Iyas, sporting a cap from West Midlands league cricket, remained a danger, and after passing fifty he stepped hard on the gas, mixing monster blows over mid-wicket and down the ground with deft deflections down to third man as 19 came off an over. But pace off the ball was to be our key to victory. Joe Silmon was brought on and produced his best spell in an Allstars shirt, getting the critical breakthrough as Iyas, having batted superbly for his 80, top-edged another big shot and was taken by Dharani.
Skipper Asif continued the Weasels’ resistance – but the required run rate was climbing into double figures and beyond their reach. There was still time for the day’s champagne moment, as Richard “Rocket” Stephenson ran out Asif with our second direct hit of the day, and for me to take the final wicket as Jawad charged down the pitch and was easily stumped.
A great way to finish the season, as we celebrated in the Crown Inn. Whatever the future holds for the Weasels, they will always be welcome as opponents or players with us.
The playing season may be over, but we all have our end of season dinner on 24 November to look forward to, and our Director of Cricket Haroon Khalid is already planning winter nets to get us ready for next May …